Former Army Specialist William Mosebach and girlfriend Kristen Creech were troubled by the recurrent headlines. Many soldiers home from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq were struggling to readjust to life on American soil. Cases of suicide, mental illness, crime, and chronic unemployment among veterans were all on the rise.
The pair were moved by the plight of struggling veterans and began to investigate ways they could help. Their research introduced them to Active Heroes, an organization founded by Troy Yocum that assists veterans, active personnel, and military families.
One of Active Heroes' major charitable programs is "Hike For Heroes" which features ex-military personnel and others trekking extremely long distances while collecting sponsorships and donations en route, with all money going to veterans and military families. Yocum himself has hiked 7000 miles in conjunction with the program.
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Mosebach and Creech are avid hikers, so "Hike For Heroes" was an ideal way for them to get involved. They launched their hike of the East Coast Greenway, a trail east of the Applachians, at International Bridge in Calais, Maine, on Sept. 25 — 2500 miles from their destination in their hometown of West Palm Beach, Fla., where they will finally receive a grand homecoming on May 31, 2013.
The couple's journey brought them to Southington this weekend, or mile 720 on their trip, according to Mosebach. They were feted Friday evening at a dinner held at Grace United Methodist Church, and Saturday they actually hiked through town.
During breakfast at the Pepper Pot Restaurant Sunday morning, Southington supporters presented them with another honor. The Pepper Pot is known for the mural on its wall that depicts Southington's history, but, until Sunday's unveiling, Mosebach and Creech were unaware that mural artist Mary DeCroce had added them to the picture.
The hikers wound up their weekend in Southington at Camp Sloper Sunday afternoon for "Family Fun/Hiking Day" where they regaled attendees with tales from the trail.
As of Sunday morning, Southington residents had donated $740 of the $6,000 the couple has received in contributions, according to Heidi Lounsbury, coordinator of the weekend's events. Mosebach explained that the goal is to raise $50,000 to start an endowment in Florida for veterans and economically distressed military families, another group he and Creech champion.
Mosebach said that Southington's embrace of he and Creech typefies the response they have received throughout their hike.
"People come out of the woodwork offering to help us. We've had to camp maybe five times."
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